‘1. Issues Selection’ Category

Feedback from weADAPT

September 26th, 2012

As you remember, during our last meeting in London, we met Sukaina Bharwani and Ben Smith from the amazing weADAPT.org project. In London and after that we identified with them a number of maps that could potentially be interesting for their community and during the summer, Milano designed a wonderful wireframe sketching what this maps may look like (thank you Michele):


We sent this wireframe to our friend at weADAPT and here is their feedback:


  • 1) We were not sure about the value of visualising co-authoring just yet as weADAPT is quite young and this is probably not so prevalent yet.
  • 2) This is a good question because it shows focus, and also which initiatives maybe need strengthening.
  • 3+4) We thought that these were really interesting and we especially liked the temporal aspect of Q4.
  • 5) We liked this one the most from a weADAPT/research perspective especially as it’s also easy for users to understand. Here, we could potentially also view tags by initiative and members, as well as organisation?
  • 6) This one would not be as interesting for us as the others but would be ok.
  • 7) This could be more interesting as it could show contentious areas quite well.
  • 8+9) These are both valuable illustrations and again easy to understand.
  • 10) This is also very interesting from a climate adaptation research perspective if we choose pertinent things to monitor over time. We can ask other staff at SEI also working on adaptation to come up with possible questions to model also.
    In summary, we think that for weADAPT 2, 3,4, and 5 are the most interesting, and 8, 9 and 10 in the wider debate. Users would probably be very interested in question 10, and to see who’s doing what (hot topics/most used tags) would be really useful to (both within and outside weADAPT).


On the basis of this feedback, I am now discussing with them to obtain the data we need to build these maps.
I’ll keep you posted as soon as I have more information on this.

Spatial scales of controversies and decision-making

July 11th, 2012

Referring to the post from Milan on Visual reports for climate changeI took the reports prepared by the POLIMI students as a set of samples to relate the spatial scale of decision-making (global to local) on the one hand to the issues that are covered by the climate change strand of the EMAPS project on the other hand (focus on adaptation but also links to mitigation and other environmental issues). Although the figure below is from a methodological perspective not correct (the values on the axis of ordinates are not continuous) it shows that the majority of discourses that seem to be preferably analysed by the students are at the national, international or global scale whereas – on the other hand – the local and regional discourse analyses do not cover adaptation. This of course mainly depends on the selection of discourses as well as on the selection of discourses data (mainly online based).

However, this result is not surprising for me also from another perspective: Rather few discourses about regional or local climate change adaptation exist yet – climate change adaptation is still far away from being a mainstream issue. It is a topic that is new for regional and local decision-makers and it is (especially in developed countries) often not approved yet because extra costs are expected from tackling this problem and further it might lead to a negative image of a region as being vulnerable. Thus, there is some potential for added value to link climate change adaptation controversies with regional and local decision-making.

Further, I took some of the scientific discourses on climate change adaptation (see potential controversies we have identified so far, e. g. post on Background information to some climate change adaptation controversies) and related them also to the different spatial scales as well as to groups or spheres of actors (science, GOs, NGOs, the public). The picture shows – against the background of our own cc adaptation research experiences – in a very generalised manner at which spatial level the results of the discourses are relevant for which group or sphere (also in this figure the axis of ordinates has discrete values and therefore does not represent continuous relations).  

It is not surprising that most of these selected scientific discourses are carried out in science with strong relevance and relations to governmental organisations as the latter often carry out scientific studies by themselves or determine the design of research by formulating research programmes or terms of references. The discourses stretch from actors at the global to those at the local level. However, there are also some topics that are of special relevance for regional and local decision-makers.

Summarising, from the perspective of applied research in climate change adaptation it would be very promising for the EMAPS project to link the discourses analysis/controversy mapping to regional and/or local decision-making processes and to identify topics that meet stakeholder and decision-maker needs at the regional and/or local level.

Background information to some climate change adaptation controversies

June 12th, 2012

After a recent discussion about the climate change controversies issue with Tommaso Venturini the TU Dortmund team identified some – from our point of view – central controversies concerning climate change adaptation. The selection of controversies has a slight spatial planning perspective as this is our scientific background. However, most of these topics are controversial in any respect:

  • Need for downscaled climate change exposition data for spatial planning decisions for spatial planning
  • Different concepts and terms
  • Increase of extreme events
  • Multiple changes, multiple challenges
  • Temporal scales
  • Dependency of vulnerability assessments

We compiled some background information about these topics in a short paper. When reading it you will see some overlapping with Tommaso’s list in the workshop survival kit (pp. 10-12). However, not all topics that Tommaso lists are described in the paper. Nevertheless the paper could give some input to our discussion during our project meeting on 14 June 2012 in London.

Where we are, where we are going

June 9th, 2012

The London workshop will not start until next Wednesday, but I already want to express great satisfaction for process that led to this event. In a handful of months, we identified a number research questions, we collected and analysed the data necessary to provide some answers, we visualised the results of the analysis and we are now ready to share our maps with a real public. On a small scale, we already proved the worth of our consortium.
And there’s more: next week event is only a small test compared to the exhibition we will organise in London in the next fall, which in turn is only a small test of the online/offline platform we will develop on climate adaptation.

During the kick-off meeting, I said that our project is complex because it is experimental. I think we have found the good organisation to tame such complexity. The circle displayed in the image below (courtesy of Axel) describes the iterative process of questions-data-visualisations-tests that characterize EMAPS. What is most remarkable about this circle is that it reaches further every time we go through it. More then to a circle, our project resembles to a spiral where every coil delivers better maps and engages more people.
Accordingly, the success of EMAPS depends crucially on our capacity to multiply the iterations among ourselves and with our publics. To use a slogan borrowed from software development: “release early, release often!”

Acknowledging the spiralling nature of EMAPS transforms slightly but decisively the goal of the second day of our London meeting (see page 7 and 8 of the survival kit sent by Axel). At this stage, the priority is not to decide once and for all the precise focus of our project, but to set the mapping spiral into motion. What we need is to identify a first set of adaptation maps that are both interesting and relatively easy to produce.
To facilitate our work, I drafted a list of potential research questions and maps (see page 10-12 of the kit). Our goal for Thursday is to complete this list (because I certainly forgot something important) and agree on the interest and feasibility of each of the proposed maps.

This assessment will be the basis for the work of following months, which will consist in developing a first set of maps to submit to a first sample of public in order to produce better maps to submit to a larger audience and so on and so forth. So the spiral goes, so the project advances…

Case studies

March 13th, 2012

During the kick-off meeting we proposed to link the case studies from the CHANGES project with EMAPS. The CHANGES project (http://www.changes-itn.eu) aims at identifying socio-economic and physical changes (mainly natural hazards), including climate change. CHANGES is a Marie Curie Network involving so called Early Stage researchers and some Experienced Researches, each of them covering a topic within the CHANGES framework. The research methods and the methodologies will be applied and tested in four pilot study sites where hazards are currently evident and some risk management procedures have already been implemented. The study areas are located in the French Alps, North Eastern Italy, Romania and Poland: (more…)


January 27th, 2012

In order to identify some specific sub-controversies we may want to focus on in the rest of the project, we are launching our crawling/scraping spiders.
To do so, we have looking for a query that would be both ‘exhaustive’ (allowing us to find all the pertinent websites and scientific articles) and ’specific’ (allowing us to find just the pertinent websites and scientific articles).

Here is what we came up with:
(“climate change” OR “global warming” OR “climate warming”) AND (adapt* OR vulnerab*)

If you think that this query may be improved, please comment this blog and tell us how.

List of potential controversies

December 8th, 2011

1. Procedures for adaptation funding (how the money is collected, how the money is spent).

2. Indicators of vulnerability and adaptation capacity.
- Both at global level (which countries are more vulnerable) and a national/continental level (which regions/zone are more vulnerable)
- Correspondance between the level of assessment and the level of policy actions
- Impact of legal question of property right and economic value
- How climate/weather forecast
- Difference between climate vulnerability (climate adaptation) and risk for weather-related disasters (disaster management)
- Does the South of the world  indicators produced in the North of the World be applied to
- Consequences on assurance systems

2a. Role of climate models and meteorological forecast in the choice/implementation of adaptation policies.
- The question of extreme events is particularly controversial (trends are better evaluated)
- Which extremes events are better or worse forecasted (sea flooding are better predicted than river flooding)
- At which time / geographical scale are models reliable
- Which climatic variable are better or worse forecasted
- Which regions are are better or worse forecasted
- Socio-economic scenarios for climate modeling

3. Which governance/policy instruments are to be used to choose/implement adaptation policies.
- This is more relevant for countries that have a strong culture of planning

4. An example of a controversial adaptation project in Europe (at regional, national, or local level)

5. An example of a controversial adaptation project in Developing countries (at regional, national, or local level)

6. Overflowing of (biodiversity, agriculture, health and disease management, security and migration management)

7. Question of priority of adaptation

8. Assessing of the success of adaptation actions

An introduction to controversy mapping

November 26th, 2011

The pre-prints of two article I have published on Public Understanding of Science that provide a basic introduction to the observation and representation of controversies.

Venturini, T. (2010). Diving in magma: how to explore controversies with actor-network theory. Public understanding of science, 19(3), 258.

Venturini, T. (2012). Building on faults: how to represent controversies with digital methods. Public Understanding of Science, (forthcoming)